Dentists and dental hygienists rely on x-rays to diagnose decay, periodontal disease, abscesses, etc. They are necessary as a part of the standard of patient care since only approximately 1/3 of the tooth can be seen clinically. It is our duty as dental professionals to provide accurate and competent care which can be done through assessing the teeth not only clinically, but also radiographically. In majority of situations patients undergo intraoral digital radiographs or Panoramic radiographs, depending on the doctors assessment and need in specific situation. More advanced suspected pathology or more complex dental procedures might require 3D imaging such as cone beam CT.
How often x-rays should be taken is based on an individual’s oral health, age, caries and periodontal risk assessment, past history of decay/periodontal disease, or other signs and symptoms of oral disease and conditions. This means that dental X-rays are not a “One Size Fits All” category when it comes to the intervals in-between taking them. For example, children may require different radiographic assessment than certain adults due to their changing dentition and developing teeth/jaws. Likewise, a patient who has many crowns/fillings/bridges can’t be treated the same way as a 20 year old who has never had a cavity in his life.
Dental X-rays are safe and have the lowest amount of radiation compared to any other medical setting. The radiation exposure associated with dental treatments are lower than many natural sources of radiation in everyday life including microwaves, televisions, sun exposure etc. Therefore, as a patient, you should have absolutely no concerns when it comes to periodic evaluations done by your dentist. If you still have concerns, call our office and we would be happy to answer any further questions.